May 23, 2010

Toronto Airport, Zurich and Bern

A few hours layover at the Toronto Airport and I run into a Richard Serra sculpture smack in the middle of the international section of the airport. It’s almost the same sculpture I saw with Rebecca at the Los Angeles County Museum a few years ago. It’s a miracle for parents because the kids waiting for flights can run off some steam as they race through the passageways making crazy sounds that echo off the panels. It’s a wonder the structure of such height can stand and not fall over. Thrilling to see in the midst of an airport.

But the trip was long although uneventful. When I arrived in Zurich it was late morning and the sun was brilliant and warm. What a relief to see weather leaning toward summer. Everyone was out, the city abuzz on a holiday weekend: Pentecost. The Swiss close down their shops for religious holidays as well as other secular holidays. So everything is closed Sunday and Monday. No food shopping, no other shopping. It's annoying if you've forgotten to buy things you'll need, but really nice to feel the city quieted and unhurried. I went out with the kids to the park the day I arrived and fought through to evening before giving in to sleep. I hadn't slept at all on the plane except for a few hours of lucid dreaming. I finally gave in after dinner and slept through to morning.

Sunday was another brilliant day. I went out with the grandkids, Julian and Esther in the morning to see how many trams we could ride in one hour and then be back to get ready to go to Bern, the Swiss capital, for the afternoon. We only managed four trams as the ice cream shop we'd planned to go to was closed so we had to substitute for an ice pop at the main tram station and then we walked along the lake a ways. When we arrived back home, Nicolas and the kids and I got ready for the train ride to Bern, one hour from Zurich.

The Swiss trains have family cars with playground equipment in the middle of the car. Parents sit on either end of the play area and relax while kids get their exercise. Quite pleasant. We ate a picnic lunch on the train and arrived happily in Bern to meet Nicolas' sister Franzisca who is Esther's godmother. The plan was to leave Esther with the godparents for a special godparent outing. Esther's godfather, Martin a Swiss national who lives in Santa Monica was visiting and they all planned to meet at the Zoo. All very complicated.

Meantime, Nicolas, Julian and I went to the cathedral

and climbed high into the bell tower with a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside. The Alps were still a bit misty and I couldn't capture the view with my camera. Nevertheless, the rooftops gave a fine view and we could see the Eiger and Jungfrau which are fairly close to Bern. Afterward, we took a bus out to the zoo and met the group at a restaurant next to the park. Lovely time together. Then we were back at the station for a 5 p.m. train back to Zurich. In no time at all we were home and having dinner together with the weather still warm and summer like.

So, I'm in Zurich, the kids have no school Monday and the plan is to go to the Zurich zoo with just the kids and I hopping on and off trams along the way. James Joyce's gravesite is up near the zoo so I may drag the kids into the cemetery on the way. Nicolas is going into the office, Ellen is going into her studio to work. She is producing some very gorgeous new photographs which I'll get permission to preview here although she's fussy about letting things out before they are ready. At the moment I'm still in jet lag and up at 4:30 a.m. But I'm not so tired as I slept deeply and long the first night. I'm definitely improved from the mean flu that hit before I left Olympia. Things are looking up. It's a good change to be away.